Salman-Hollande talks to focus on Mideast turmoil
Turmoil across the Middle East, which has led to the death and displacement of millions of innocent people, will top the agenda of talks between Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and top French officials in Paris on Monday.
“The talks will be followed by a state dinner hosted by French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee palace,” Eric Giraud-Telme, French embassy spokesman, said here Sunday.
“Besides Hollande, Crown Prince Salman will also hold wide-ranging discussions with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his defense counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian,” said Giraud-Telme.
He said the talks will focus on the unrest in Syria, the peace process in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear program, Iraq, Gaza and above all, ways to boost the capability of Lebanon.
He said Crown Prince Salman’s visit to Paris is significant since it comes eight months after Hollande’s trip to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi royal trip will “move forward” relations across sectors, including the defense and economy domains. The visit of the crown prince will also help to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength of the two countries.
The two sides are also likely to endorse accords during the crown prince’s three-day visit.
The two sides are expected to touch on a $3-billion package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon’s army that Riyadh has agreed to finance, as Beirut faces threats on its border with Syria.
Giraud-Telme said the crown prince will also attend a major business meeting to be organized within the framework of the Saudi-French Business Council in Paris on Tuesday. During his stay, the crown prince will also interact with a group of Saudi students currently pursuing studies in that country.
On the bilateral front, official talks between Crown Prince Salman and President Hollande will focus on how to “diversify the partnership” further, said the French Embassy spokesman.
He said the Kingdom has been a long-time strategic partner of France and the visit of Crown Prince Salman to Paris is a good opportunity to “strengthen” the ties further.